Markets regulator Sebi on Thursday told the Supreme Court that the Sahara group’s flagship property, the Aamby Valley project in Maharashtra, has failed to get any response from prospective buyers despite ample publicity of the intent to sell the properties.
The official liquidator (OL) of the Bombay High Court also told a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that the auctioning process of the prized Aamby Valley properties has been put off. The apex court in February had allowed Aamby Valley, the township near Pune, to be split into small parcels of land as there were no takers for the purchase of the entire township.
Spread over 8,900 acres, Aamby Valley is Sahara’s flagship project comprising luxury resorts and an airport, and valued at around Rs 38,000 crore. Putting off the auctioning process, the bench directed two firms — Sai Rydam Realtors and Prime Down Town Real Estate — to deposit Rs 1,000 crore with the Sebi-Sahara account after Sahara group senior counsel Vikas Singh submitted that the firms have expressed interest in buying Sahara’s 300-acre land at Vasai in Mumbai for Rs 982 crore.
Accepting a demand draft of Rs 99 crore from the two buyers on Thursday, the top court ordered them to deposit Rs 200 crore in the Sebi-Sahara account by August 15 and the balance Rs 682.8 crore by September 12. It also cautioned them that any default would amount to contempt and the deposited amount would be forfeited. It posted the matter for further hearing on September 12. On being informed that the Sahara group has already sold its hotel in New York, the bench asked the company to file an affidavit giving details about the sale and the use of the money thereafter.
The embattled Sahara group has been locked in a prolonged legal battle with capital markets regulator Sebi for allegedly breaching norms in raising over Rs 24,000 crore through certain bonds. The group was asked by the Supreme Court to deposit the funds with Sebi for refund to investors, even as it maintains to have already refunded the majority of the bondholders. Sahara group chief Subrata Roy and its two directors are out on parole since May 2016, after spending two years at Delhi’s Tihar Jail.